Marathon’s love for Philadelphia keeps getting stronger! Inspired by our excitement for everything fresh and local, we’re taking “Serving The Neighborhood” to a whole new level and growing affordable healthy food for our city!  Through Marathon Loves Philadelphia, a 501c3 non-profit organization, we are re-utilizing vacant land in the city and transforming it into an urban farm which will serve its neighbors and our customers. Through community out-reach, educational programs and just plain old good food, Marathon is Spreading the Love, one carrot at a time!

Marathon Farm is an urban farm in the Brewerytown neighborhood of North Philadelphia. There are over 40,000 vacant properties in Philadelphia, many in areas with a lack of access to fresh produce. Instead of letting this wealth of land sit idle, why not use it to our advantage and GROW FOOD ON IT, building our community food security and beautifying blighted land!

We are reclaiming 15,000 square feet of vacant land on the corner of 27th and Master Streets. On it we will grow organic produce which we will sell at an affordable farm stand on site and a portion will be bought by Marathon Restaurants in Center City Philadelphia. We will hold educational programming for youth and adults every week, focusing on nutrition, the environment and sustainability. Our programming will include, cooking demos, nutrition lectures, composting workshops, a gardening series and food preservation workshops. In addition to the farm, we will have a 20 plot community garden for neighbors, a community gathering space for workshops, neighborhood composting and a rainwater catchment system. We are also creating a Do-It-Yourself guide to urban gardening in Philadelphia, whether in your backyard, roof, vacant lot or fire escape!

The farm will be open to the public and all are encouraged to participate and learn the processes of growing your own food.

We will begin building the infrastructure, including the raised beds, greenhouse, high tunnel, tool shed and community space in March and we hope to begin growing by April. The money is to help us purchase our materials for building our farm. . The $10,000 we are requesting is specifically to help us purchase the tools and supplies for building our Greenhouse for propagating seeds and our High Tunnel for growing fall and spring crops. The money will also be used for printing our DIY Guide for growing food in the city. In addition we hope to purchase 40 blueberry plants and 10 fruit trees for a mini orchard!!!! The building of the farm is budgeted to cost $20,000 but we hope to cut that in half by using recycled materials and getting donations

Urban Agriculture is not only about growing food. It is deeply rooted in community and education. Clearly urban farming will never be able to feed a whole city, but it can feed the minds of a city and empower people to live a healthier, happier and more sustainable lifestyle. Bringing together neighbors to work together and share in the bounty of their labors is the essence of urban farming. To me food is the key to linking people to each other and with a place. In cities, many people have no idea where food comes from. When you are surrounded by metal, brick and cement, the entire idea of the food we eat once living in dirt can seem utterly absurd. Urban farming brings the realities of nature into this man made urban environment and connects people to the food they eat and the neighbors they share it with.


18 responses to “About

  1. Anonymous

    Definition of greenwashing. And they want us to pay for it.

    • Definition of Greenwashing: Greenwashing is a form of corporate misrepresentation where a company will present a green public image and publicize green initiatives that are false or misleading.

      In fact, this project, and several other projects at Marathon, are real, tangible examples of Marathon trying to be a better business and what other businesses like Marathon should be doing to actually impact our country’s consumer habits and transition into a more sustainable economy and food system. Marathon’s interest in creating this urban farm, buying local produce through Common Market, joining the Sustainable Business Network and working with consulting firms to figure out how to cut energy and water usage is not with the intention of green washing their business. We have already begun composting food waste at our commissary location and are developing relationships with several local food distributors to start purchasing from. Marathon’s business practices have changed drastically over the past several years and there is nothing for which they need to cover up through what you label as “greenwashing”.

      As for paying for it, a project like this costs a lot of money to build including fair salaries for the employees of the farm. Marathon is making considerable donations to the project but as a separate non-profit which is focused on educational programming and providing affordable produce to a community, outside funding is crucial to the support of a program like this. Our goals are to become as self sufficient as possible and not need outside funding, but in these early stages of development and construction our start-up costs are a lot higher then our future costs of running the farm.

      If you ever find yourself in Brewerytown you should come stop by at a work day and get your hands dirty and see for yourself what this project is all about.

      • Howard Wright

        While it may be true that Marathon has noble intentions in improving its business practices, it seems abundantly clear that this project is mostly about stamping Marathon’s name on the hip movement of urban agriculture, and the subsequent laudatory press. The token amount of produce that this “farm” will contribute to Marathon’s regional operation (and even the relatively small amount that they can get from places like Common Market) masks the inherent unsustainability of a large restaurant, their supply chain, and their waste. Significantly more could be done to support the local food system and for Brewerytown with the tens of thousands of dollars that this project represents than building a hobby garden surrounded by a fence and putting the word “community” all over it. It’s a calculated choice to build a living billboard changing Marathon’s negative reputation in Philadelphia, and it’s asking other people to help foot the bill for their media coverage, not to mention taking money away from other projects in town that aren’t propaganda.
        That, to me, is greenwashing – and arrogant.

      • We appreciate your opinion and find critical feedback keeps us on our toes and helps make this project more meaningful. There seems to be general public consensus that Marathon is a big corporate chain, but the truth is, we only have 6 restaurants and have been family owned and operated for two generations in a “region” of about 1 square mile! As for your concern with how we source our product, to give you an example, I personally just met with a small family owned grass fed, chemical free local beef farm in Medford, New Jersey. We will begin purchasing ground beef and other cuts immediately from them and are working with their immediate neighbors and butcher so we can actually supply all of our restaurants. This is not a mask but an authentic effort to change the “inherent unsustainability of a large restaurant, our supply chain, and our waste”. The significant ways in which more could be done to support a local food system are so clearly and simply exactly what we at Marathon are doing: Supporting local farmers, educating the public on these issues and reutilizing vacant land to grow produce which gives people a tangible view of where their food comes from and distributing it at an affordable price. Currently local and organic food is highly inaccessible to most of the population. We believe that not only should farmers be getting paid fairly for their product but also that all people should have the opportunity to purchase and eat local, organic and healthy food. No one knows the answer to fixing our food system, it is a complex and confusing system, but we are just trying to do our part in it while also creating something positive, beautiful, fun and engaging through the farm. We’re excited about it and we want everyone to know how excited we are about it and possibly inspire people to get involved or do something on their own. We will be having many work days in the coming weeks, hope to see you out at the farm soon!!!

  2. Anjelica

    No matter what others say, I think you’re project is absolutely amazing. I am an Environmental Studies student and love to hear about sustainable initiatives actually being carried out. A friend of mine, who is an ES graduate, worked with me on a documentary about urban gardens in Philadelphia for one of our classes. Believe it or not, we both commented on a lot that is now being turned into a garden (wishing that it would be turned into a garden one day!) So it’s fantastic to see that wish unfold before our eyes.

    Keep up the great work!!

  3. Kudos for the launch of this project!

    Starting a project of this scale is very challenging — starting an urban farming project myself, I speak from first hand experience.

    A community farm is in of itself supporting the local food system. Providing an outlet to share knowledge, build community, provide opportunities and grow food is essential to challenging existing paradigms around food production. Steps like those ya’all are taking are necessary — and highly commendable.

    If I ever find myself in PA, you can count me in on getting my hands dirty.
    Good luck with the fundraiser!

  4. JAH

    Bravo Marathon!!! At least you are making an effort. It makes me sick that people can question your intentions. Who cares what your intentions are? You are trying to do something good for this planet, and this poor neighborhood. Here you are trying to make a difference to make this world a better place and you have to fight off people that questions your intentions. I don’t see how a billboard in Brewerytown is going to help your business in Center City. Keep up the good work!! Keep trying to make this planet a better place to live one person, one napkin, one carrot at a time. Let the naysayers keep polluting this planet and live in their own misery.

  5. Joanna

    Very exciting program. There are so many opportunities for making Philadelphia a beautiful city for everyone who lives here, poor, rich, middle class, educated, uneducated. If people who have the blessings to do so, don’t invest in this city, then who will? Nothing good is free. This garden will do so many things for the people of the neighborhood besides selling produce. Thank you for investing in Philly!

  6. rachel

    As a resident of Brewerytown, I am pretty excited to welcome you guys to the neighborhood. Whether this farm provides a large percent of your restaurant’s produce or not is secondary to me; I’m thankful for your initiative to create community space in a neighborhood that really needs it, and to give an opportunity for the residents of our neighborhood to take ownership in this project. See you at the farm!

  7. abigail sutton

    Nice work, Marathon! I’m excited to see how this project develops. This is most definitely a step in the right direction. The lack of access to fresh produce in Philly’s working class neighborhoods is a serious problem which is leading to childhood diabetes and obesity. Other groups in the city are working to get fresh produce in local bodegas to combat this as well. Will people choose an apple over a bag of chips when they shop? Only time will tell; making the choices available and encouraging nutrition education is what it’s all about. I applaud your efforts and would love to get dirty and work up a sweat in your urban garden someday soon.

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  9. how big is your cultivated area that you ‘farm’?

  10. It’s about 1/4 acre that is for production with other space for the community garden, community gathering spaces and educational programming.

    Adam Hill
    Farm Manager

  11. Stephanie

    I think its also important to note for people that have no experience in farming and food, the difference between a farm and a garden. Everyone keeps putting farm in quotations like its a ridiculous statement. A farm produces food for sale, size is not relevant of the definition. A garden is for personal use. Marathon sells its food to the community, making it a farm. It also contains a community garden. You would also be amazed at just how much produce you can grow on a 1/4 acre.
    Also, neither Marathon or most other urban farms are claiming to be replacing the food system. But access to fresh food in neighborhoods similar to this is making a difference in the way people view their communities.

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  13. Pingback: urban farming in philadelphia, or where the hell have i been lately? part one | chez farm

  14. Geoff Kimo

    Adam/Marathon Farm
    I just discovered your website and am delighted by your enterprise.
    Now that that approaches, can you elaborate on how the growing season went? Successes versus disappointments? Signs that the community has finally been won over by your intentions?

    thanks in advance!

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